TORONTO, Dec. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - A Canadian delegation led by Rev. Majed
El Shafie, President and Founder of One Free World International
('OFWI'), visited Bangladesh from December 16 to December 21, 2013. The
delegation included two Honourable Canadian Members of Parliament: Mr.
Brad Butt, Member of Parliament (Mississauga-Streetsville), Co-Chair of
Canada Bangladesh Parliamentary Friendship Group; Mr. Jay Aspin, Member
of Parliament (Nipissing-Timiskaming). The two Members of Parliament
participated in the capacity of observers.
The OFWI-led delegation met with representatives of the government and
opposition parties, as well as civil society and religious minority
leaders. The delegation expressed its support for religious freedom and
minority rights in Bangladesh and listened to the concerns and
perspectives of Bangladeshi leaders and civil society. The delegation
also met with Her Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to discuss
these important issues.
OFWI travelled to Bangladesh in order to stand with the people of
Bangladesh against religious extremism in any form. OFWI is deeply
concerned by the ongoing and increasing attacks against religious
minorities in Bangladesh. OFWI firmly believes that only a clear
separation between religion and the state can ensure the rights of all
Bangladeshi, including its minorities.
The nation of Bangladesh is at a crossroads in its history. The
Bangladesh polity has repeatedly though the constitutional and judicial
institutions affirmed the values of secularism, equality, and religious
freedom. Today resurgent extremism and resulting attacks on religious
minorities threaten to undo the progress made towards meaningful and
universal human rights in Bangladesh. In order to choose the path of
freedom and justice, the people of Bangladesh must affirm that the
rights of religious minorities can only be truly protected by a secular
political order that recognizes everyone's right to practice their
religion freely. They must reject the attempts by religious extremist
parties to exert influence over the political process and impose a
restrictive view of religion that would make political and civil rights
contingent on one's religious identity. The threat of extremism is not
only a threat to Bangladesh's minorities; it is a threat to the
Bangladeshi people as a whole.
The road towards universal human rights is far from easy. The current
political struggle goes to the very heart of Bangladesh's collective
national identity. If human rights are to prevail, the Bangladeshi
people must have the strength of conviction to separate their religious
identity from democracy and politics, and affirm everyone's right to
full democratic participation and protection under the law.
OFWI is committed to standing with the people and government of
Bangladesh in their efforts to ensure freedom and human rights, and to
fight extremism and intolerance.
SOURCE: One Free World International
For further information:
One Free World International